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If you’re piling your hair on top of your head or aggressively towel drying it after the shower, you’re washing your hair wrong. Here’s how to really wash your hair to help prevent damage and leave it clean and looking great.

Never pile your hair up
So you’re lathering in your shampoo – but if you pile your hair on top of your head, you can create tangles that never come out.

It’s something known as “birdnesting” and does permanent damage to your hair.

Instead, work the lather from root to tip, following the same direction your cuticles face – that way you’ll actually work tangles out rather than create them.

Focus on the scalp
It’s tempting to work the lather through the hair, but the best place to focus is the scalp.

This is where lots of oil and dirt build up so you need to keep it clean.

If you focus only on the hair, the shampoo will wash off without getting to the scalp. Focus instead on the scalp and gravity will do the work as you rinse, taking the shampoo along the hair and cleaning that too.

Keep the water around body temperature
If you’ve ever tried washing a greasy pan with cold water, you’ll know that it doesn’t work very well!

Warmer water helps loosen the bonds between the dirt and grease on your hair and scalp. That allows the shampoo to bind better to themand then rinse it all away.

But don’t turn the temperature up too high – water that’s too hot can aggravate a sensitive scalp.

Keep it around 100°F – that should be high enough to get a great clean but low enough not to aggravate your scalp.

Easy on the towel drying… and the hair dryer!
A lot of people towel-dry their hair – but a vigorous rub with a towel is actually a terrible idea. All that movement can knot the hair and even damage it.

So, you’re probably thinking to reach for the hair dryer instead. Just be careful – too much heat can also damage your hair and scalp.

The best way is to gently pat your hair or tie it up with a towel to get the excess water off and then, if you can, let it air dry after that. If you do want to blow dry it, avoid the highest heat setting to minimize damage.

Find out how often to wash your hair

More tips and advice on washing and styling your hair